Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking shows that South Africa is the second-worst country to reside in during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Covid Resilience Ranking gives a snapshot of where the pandemic is being handled the most effectively with the least social and economic disruption.
The top performers in the ranking are New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, and Taiwan with low community transmission and death rates.
New Zealand – with its closed borders, four vaccine deals and near-elimination of the virus locally – holds onto pole position for the third month running.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which lead the world in inoculating against COVID-19, have been propelled into the top 15 due to the fast pace of rollouts, with as many as 40 doses given out per 100 people.
On the other end of the scale, Mexico and South Africa are the worst countries with rising infection and death rates.
South Africa dropped 14 places as new COVID-19 cases jumped and tighter restrictions reduced people’s mobility.
A new virus strain is driving a surge of infections in South Africa, and uncertainty is growing over whether vaccines can fully protect against new variants.
The second wave of COVID-19 in South Africa, which is driven by the new variant 501Y.V2, is far deadlier than the first wave, with nearly 20,000 deaths in two months.
The government responded with increased lockdown restrictions and a ban on alcohol, which in turn damages the restaurant, travel, tourism, and alcohol industries.
For most countries, the biggest weapon against the coronavirus pandemic is rolling out vaccines to most of their population.
South Africa has, however, been slow to secure vaccines for its population. Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking shows the country has only secured vaccines for 6% of its population.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa previously said the country has secured 20 million vaccine doses, which are to be delivered ‘mainly’ in the first half of the year.
Earlier this month, the government struck a deal for an initial 1.5 million doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca from The Serum Institute of India. These doses are expected to be delivered before the end of January.
Ramaphosa said they are aiming to vaccinate two-thirds of the population by the end of the year, but details about this plan remains sketchy.
The delay in vaccinations does not bode well for South Africa, which is facing a third wave of COVID-19 infections as winter hits.
Vaccinologist professor Shabir Madhi said the government was late to the game in acquiring a vaccine, warning that another wave could resurface within three to four months.
“It seems to me that the government only started planning in early January after a media backlash,” said Madhi. “Even after this resurgence dies down, we’ll get another one, and vaccine deployment will be too late for high-risk groups then.”
Instead of taking responsibility for South Africa’s failure to secure vaccines early, Ramaphosa took aim at countries which did secure vaccines during his speech at the World Economic Forum’s digital Davos conference.
Ramaphosa warned against “vaccine nationalism”, saying that it risks endangering the recovery of not only countries like South Africa, but all nations.
Vaccine nationalism is where wealthier countries allegedly hoard COVID-19 vaccines for their own citizens, freezing out less prosperous countries such as South Africa.
“We are deeply concerned about the problem of vaccine nationalism, which, unless addressed, will endanger the recovery of all countries,” he said.
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